No start on The Old 96er

bradhays

Registered
'96 Cherokee here and right now I'm dealing with a no start after a few weeks of suspicious symptoms. She's been driven a lot less over the past year and about a month ago she began starting a little slow. I've got an oversized battery in there so usually she cranks right up no problem. I started monitoring batt voltage and saw around 12.04 V with engine off and 14.10 V or so running. Right before I get the new battery I head to Advance and they run a battery/alternator test. Kid tells me my batt is bad but alternator is still good.

So I lay out the $ and install the same size 34N EverStart Maxx 800 cca from Wally's and the slow start persists. Measuring the new battery with engine off yields consistent readings of just under 12.7 V, so for the past few weeks I began charging the batt at 2A which seemed to help. A few days ago I venture out for an errand and the engine doesn't restart to get me back home. I get no clicks or cranking at all with a key turn. Batt measures 12.67 V at the terminals. Dash gauges seem to react with the key on, voltmeter reading ~11.5 V, although I'm not sure how accurate that is. Fuel pump pressurizes.

Something that happened right after battery change out, which may or may not help in diagnosing the problem, is that my pass side headlight only illuminated half way while the driver side stayed full bright. I have an LMC Truck aftermarket headlight wiring harness giving 55/100w low high beam. It's the kind where you run the lights straight off the battery through additional relays. Had to tinker with the light harness a bit to get the new batt in and may have compromised a connection? Maybe a ground? Either way the pass headlight started showing full bright after only 1 or 2 occurrences and has been right ever since. With my alternator testing good and a new battery I wondered if maybe a loose connection was draining my voltage. I was in the middle of testing batt V connected vs. disconnected over time but this no start happened before I could get it done.

Last thing to mention is that recently I've been removing both my fuel pump and starter relays for security reasons. The way it's acting now is exactly like when trying to start with both relays removed. Being that the fuel pump is pressurizing should I consider testing the starter relay? Other than that could I have caused some kind of part failure by removing and reinstalling the relays maybe around 5-6 times over the last month?

All ears
 

tixer

Lincoln Evangelist
Staff member
Paid Member
I agree with you that I don't think the battery is an issue here. What you've done there, sounds about right.

First thing that comes to mind would be to take a close look at both battery cables. I've seen a few cases (one of which on my own old Jeep) where the cables basically corroded in half. They looked good on the outside, but the wire inside turned to dust. A good tug, and they came apart.

Now it's worth noting that I'm in the rust belt (Minnesota) so climate was almost certainly a factor here, but the results (and subsequent head scratching) were very similar. I'd definitely inspect both the positive and negative cables, and if they're even slightly suspect, replace 'em. It's an easy job, and the cables don't cost much.

Just don't forget that the starter specifically, requires a lot of current to spin. That means your connections have to be /excellent/ I've seen plenty of cars that will run all accessories with the battery clamp just "pushed" onto the post, but it has to be tight to conduct enough current to run the starter.
 

driller

El Presidente
Staff member
Paid Member
I would suspect a poor ground cable. Often you can have adequate charging but with a poor ground connection you cannot pass enough amperage for the starter to engage. You can easily check this by adding a heavy gauge ground cable from the battery to a convenient bolt on the engine block.
 

bradhays

Registered
Thanks tixer. My batt term connections seem generally good as I keep protectant on them. I'll start checking battery pos and neg wire connections and see if anything turns up.

Same driller, thanks.
 

tixer

Lincoln Evangelist
Staff member
Paid Member
Here's a photo of what I'm getting at. I've seen cables fail like this, under the insulation.. The terminals usually look good..

a-badly-corroded-battery-terminal-cable-from-a-yachts-electric-system-FK1CEM.jpg
 

bradhays

Registered
PIcture says it all. Since my batt cables are 24 years old I'm just gonna go ahead and change them out whether they look good or not.
 

bradhays

Registered
Turns out I've got a problem starter. Cleaned both batt terminals and engine ground and got nothing. Tapped the starter a few times and it fired right up. I'm getting advice it's probably my starter solenoid and that I should just replace that at about 1/4 the cost of the whole starter. I've always heard when starter motors get old their elec connections wear and tapping is what remakes the connection again. I've never heard of just the solenoid going bad so I'm not sure what to think. Should I do the just the solenoid or the whole starter w/ a lifetime warranty?
 

bradhays

Registered
Screw it I'm changing out the whole thing. So what kind of starter should I look for? Want something decent with a warranty but not too expensive. Do most people just go for something like an Ultra from Oreiley's with the lifetime? I've got a 70$ credit at Napa so I was thinking maybe one of their reman Bosch around $120.
 

driller

El Presidente
Staff member
Paid Member
For the effort versus the payback, replace the whole starter. You may want to inquire about a local automotive electrical shop that specializes in starters and alternators. Usually every town has one with a good reputation. They may have one on the shelf or be able to refurbish the one you have for less than you think.
 

tixer

Lincoln Evangelist
Staff member
Paid Member
Driller is right on this one. it's an easy swap, so you may as well do the whole thing. (or rebuild it completely.)

The beauty here is that because this is a Jeep, you've got a massive aftermarket to work with. Lots of rock crawlers will use the starter for precision control, so I know there are hi-torque options available.
 

tixer

Lincoln Evangelist
Staff member
Paid Member
I feel like with that being said, it was an easy enough job in my old '72, that I just bought the cheap one. I figured with it being a manual, I could always roll-start if I needed to. (also why I took my time replacing it the first time)

Although I'm definitely guilty of using the starter to drive it around the yard on a occasion, it was still on there when I sold it.
 
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